Humbert Wolfe

(5 January 1885 – 5 January 1940 / Milan)

Requiem: The Soldier - Poem by Humbert Wolfe

Down some cold field in a world outspoken
the young men are walking together, slim and tall,
and though they laugh to one another, silence is not broken;
there is no sound however clear they call.

They are speaking together of what they loved in vain here,
but the air is too thin to carry the things they say.
They were young and golden, but they came on pain here,
and their youth is age now, their gold is grey.

Yet their hearts are not changed, and they cry to one another,
'What have they done with the lives we laid aside?
Are they young with our youth, gold with our gold, my brother?
Do they smile in the face of death, because we died?'

Down some cold field in a world uncharted
the young seek each other with questioning eyes.
They question each other, the young, the golden hearted,
of the world that they were robbed of in their quiet paradise.

I do not ask God's purpose. He gave me the sword,
and though merely to wield it is itself the lie
against the light, at the bidding of my Lord,
where all the rest bear witness, I'll deny.
And I remember Peter's high reward,
and say of soldiers, when I hear cocks cry,
'As your dear lives ('twas all you might afford)
you laid aside, I lay my sainthood by.'
There are in heaven other archangels,
bright friends of God, who build where Michael destroys,
in music, or in beauty, lute players.
I wield the sword; and though I ask nought else
of God, I pray to Him: 'But these were boys,
and died. Be gentle, God, to soldiers.'


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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, September 15, 2010



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